John O'Connor
John O’Connor

Effective medication management is no mystery. We see it every time residents receive the right medication in the right dose at the right time.

Yet for many reasons, this simple sequence often gets sidetracked.

Sometimes the resident’s dementia or another debilitating condition interferes. Other times, the resident doesn’t want the medicine, or insists on a partial dose. Then there are bizarre state rules that can get in the way. The list goes on.

If it’s any comfort, this is not just a challenge for senior living. By some estimates, the national cost for medication nonadherence tops $100 billion each year.

Fortunately, something happened Monday that could greatly improve things. That something was the Food and Drug Administration approving a new type of antipsychotic pill. What makes this medicine unique is that it can share information about whether and when it was taken.

The medication, called Abilify MyCite (aripiprazole tablets with sensor), is designed for people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. As important as those indications are, they are almost beside the point.

What’s really important is the pill includes a sensor that can send data to a wearable patch, which then transmits information to a mobile app. Residents can track the medication on a smartphone. They also can opt to share the data with your staff through a web-based application.

“This is the first time we’ll have an objective measurement of adherence,” said Kabir Nath, CEO for North America at Otsuka Pharmaceutical, the drug-maker’s parent company.

That’s just for starters. In fact, the long-term payoff could be even more significant. For this could lead to a slew of additional medications that offer tracking capabilities.

Life is full of mysteries. Whether your residents have taken their medicine should not be one of them. 

John O’Connor is editorial director of McKnight’s Senior Living. Email him at [email protected].